Gregory and the Hawk – Leche
Listen to Olly Olly Oxen Free while you read this review
The day starts and I walk under rainy and grey skies, quite unusual for a city like this (Mexico). As I always do, I carry my earphones and mp3 player to forget the city I’m walking through, so my ears won’t hear any unnecessary malaise. This time I chose Leche, the name given to the latest piece of dream by Gregory and the Hawk.
I have found the 3 previous albums by Gregory and the Hawk honest, creative, sweet and heartbreaking, always with that touch of magic the aura of Ms. Goudreau gives to every one of her songs. Magic is just one click away! I turn on my mp3 player, and colors start spreading all around me.
My very first highlight from this album is the sound of a harp/guitar/clavichord (kind of puzzled here) to the rhythm of ¾, and for Mexican ears like mine, that’s something! It would automatically transport our memories and senses to traditional Huapango music, a Mexican music genre from the “Istmo” zone, namely places like Veracruz, San Luis Potosi, Hidalgo, places full of magic, freedom and nostalgic incantation, which are the feelings this record would wake in an individual like me.
Apart from that very nice surprise Ms. Goudreau gives to her Mexican fans, it’s quite obvious that a strong maturity process is going through every pore of this new album’s skin: every instrument from electronic guitar, acoustic guitar, harmonica, bass and drums have organized and refrained their respective passions, providing the listener with a fluid album content, quite conscious of the moment to break through or to darken a song, violins included! In a less complicated way to say it, it’s not Gregory & The Hawk and her band anymore, but Gregory & The Hawk, The Band! – I take the ordinary bus now and walk through the same old road…
Leche comprises 12 songs and the first track, ‘For the Best’, is a pure and honest display of what a band is: the acoustic guitar of Ms. Goudreau is the lead, but instruments complement each other to deliver a dreamy atmosphere. And, aren’t dreams what we need nowadays?
The next track, ‘Landscape’, is the surprise I referred to before: guitar in ¾ in “huapango” style, syncope, violins, nostalgic and an inviting voice. The song goes through the morning air; people walk by. This song has a certain “cheer-you-up” and macabre tone at the same time, a somewhat hard effect to balance. The track progresses until it explodes (in a good sense) with perfectly synchronized and adapted drums, the climax of a song made of past and present altogether in perfect harmony. There’s a music resource I love in this track, and that’s Fugue: polyphony with the tone of -as I said in a previous review of Gregory and the Hawk– an ultra feminine voice that makes this song as if somewhat the divine would come and touch our soul, the final part of a song being nostalgia, the past.
We glide through ‘Over and Over’ and fourth track, ‘Soulgazing’. Folk continues through these songs all with smart, heartfelt and accurate melodic surprises, floating along with Ms. Goudreau magic voice and tone. We generally get obsessed with one song from our dearest albums, and my one favorite from Leche is ‘Geyshire Nationale’, fitting with this time of the year, when our Day of the Dead is approaching. Acoustic nostalgia, a dream of a landscape, a dream old enough we’re not sure if it really took place, a confusion between half awake and half asleep, a long walk with the one who’s not longer among us, a memory of a single moment that will remain in our head and if hard to remember, then it’ll try and manifest in our dreams.
I do think there’s a soundtrack for our dreams, or we may be unaware that we actually composed a song while sleeping; I could think this song was written in dreams. The ultimate nostalgia sounds would come through the “huapango” style guitar of ‘Geyshire Nationale’.
‘Frebeigth’, the 6th song is the middle or interlude of the whole Leche concept, a raw and quiet song, as to close the grey and rainy chapter 1 of the album. ‘Olly Olly Oxen Free’, the 7th song, reaffirms Gregory and the Hawk’s sharp and always right-to-the- bull’s-eye lyricist capacity, with a hint of merry melodies.
The dreamy tour continues with ‘A Century is All We Need’, ‘Leaves’ (the fun track! Leaving doesn’t have to sound sad all the time) and ‘Puller Return’, the latter being a rather interesting mashup with the chorus of Cutting Crew’s ‘(I just) Died in your arms tonight’, with a special acoustic touch, whistling and Tibetan-monk styled chorus. Neat!
I’m pushed, rather shoved, by a mean lady in the bus – argh.
‘Hard to define’, penultimate track: circus and fairground memories all mixed with dark tempo, as out of order. Excellent tune depicted as experimental by my weary ears, excellent chorus, a song that would make me think it’s Gregory and the Hawk’s trademark from now on.
The end of this nostalgic, dreamy and magic album could not be more specific with its title than ‘Dream Machine’, a piano song with muffled voice: wake-up time has arrived, and yet we would love to keep this slumber. I’m getting near to my destination.
I reach the end of the album as I make it finally into the office, always there from Monday to Friday, no early release for good behavior. The commute was indeed better when I had this album in my ears instead of traffic, frantic people and dark moods, I changed the whole package for daydreaming, morning longing, and sweet slumber in the sound and voice of Gregory and the Hawk.
I stated previously that I preferred Gregory and the Hawk as a solo effort, however, I changed my mind after Leche. I’m not saying this album is better than her previous work, it’s just that Ms. Goudreau has entered in full into a new stage, now with a band. Many bands get lost in the middle of reinvention but Gregory and the Hawk is a happy exception, and man, do I dig it!
Congratulations to Gregory and the Hawk, who have displayed their maturity as a band at the right moment, who have translated the fabrics of dreams into music, then rendered it so accurately and shared it, so we won’t forget there’s still magic around.